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Assam still battling over politics in identity
Published on 15 Aug. 2010 11:23 PM IST
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Twenty-five years after the Assam Accord was singed, people of the region still caught in the politics of identity. They are struggling to be recognised as Indian citizens.
The Assam Movement was launched and subsequently the Accord was signed 25 years ago.
On July 21: a memorandum submitted against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the Barpeta district of Assam turned violent. The All Assam Minority Students Union (AASU) was opposing the NRC survey. But the protest like this is only part of a long history in Assam.
Locals in Assam fear that illegal migrants will be marked as genuine citizens, while the genuine citizens will be harassed and hounded out from their very own motherland. It’s this fear that political groups are taking advantage of and has turned into a political blame game. The fear of identity probably has been used by some people, to instigate violence and create confusion among the people of Assam, reported CNN-IBN.
25 years back, after a long agitation the Assam Accord was signed. The Accord promised to mark people from Bangladesh, who cross over to India after March 25, 1971 without permission, as illegal migrants. So far, only 43,000 foreigners been identified and 2,000 people have been deported.
Inside Barpeta, a local resident, Brindaban Rajbonshi is living in fear. He showed his bonafide refugee card, which belongs to 1950, when he had crossed over. Like many, he is clueless why he has now been marked as a doubtful voter.
“Why will I be called doubtful voter? I am an Indian citizen”, said an old resident, Brindaban Rajbonshi.
“Old residents have been marked doubtful. Things have gone topsy-turvy in the list”, said another local resident.
The demography of Assam has changed as the porous border with Bangladesh let in a stream of people. Against the continuous influx of illegal migrants there is anger among many groups in Assam.
“The Government of India and the government of Assam have shown their disrespect towards the non-violent movement and towards the national commitment. So we have only one way left to fight against illegal migration that is ‘Satyagarha’ to protect the identity of indigenous residents of Assam and to protect Indian citizens residing in Assam, “said Advisor of AASU Samujjwal Bhattacharjee
“This influx needs to be stopped. Or else in 10 years someone from Bangladesh will be the chief minister of Assam” said activist Bhattacharjee.
Without any definition of an Assamese even after 25 years of the Assam Accord or no consensus on the method of updating list of citizens, it is an issue that will again dominate the election campaign in 2011.

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